Too many irons in the fire.

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Go! Go! Go!

Run upstairs to get the client specs. Run back downstairs to deliver specs to the factory floor. Run down the block to the print shop for a press check. Run to the car to catch a plane. Race to get home. Whip up a quick dinner while helping a kid practice music, checking email, and prepping tomorrow’s lunches.

Run! Run! Run!

Without warning, something goes wrong. The mailman shows up, and your crazy dog goes busting through the front door to greet him. As the dog runs by, she knocks over your kid. While you’re coping with this catastrophe, the dinner on the stove starts to burn and your critical email goes unsent.

Crash! Boom! Bang!

All at once, all your well-laid plans come to a screeching halt. Like a line of dominoes, the tipping of one is the downfall of all. Continue reading

When life is overwhelming…

despair

Do you feel it?

Anger.

Apathy.

Angst.

The trio of trouble.

Anger abounds, fueled by perceived injustice, the prosperity of the ‘other,’ and the erosion of our foundations.

Apathy ambles about, numbing us to the downward slide, willing us to be indifferent to covetousness, deceit, and injustice.

Angst lives in the very air; we unwittingly inhale it’s noxious fumes and it’s effect spreads cancerously into every pore of our being.

Election years are always tumultuous here in the states, but the last four presidential elections have been particularly pernicious. One side foretells utter doom if the other side wins. One side threatens to abandon the country if so-and-so is elected (aaaand they never do). This house is divided, and if we don’t start getting our act together, it’s going to fall. Fear pervades every citizen.

Anger, Apathy, Angst—all are present for the show.

Do you feel these things?

Are we as Christians supposed sequester ourselves in a “joyful” bubble—unaffected and unaware?

I submit to you that even though the joy of the Lord sustains us, even though we know the world is not our home, we are keenly aware of the gathering gloom. It hangs heavily upon us and we are not immune to it’s influence. Temporal though it may be, we are living in this world and cannot isolate ourselves from the tumult around us.

What are we to do when the very fabric of our lives threatens to unravel?

Many who sit in the ivory towers of education negate the value of the Bible as an outdated tome of mythology. Professing to be wise, they have become great fools. The contemptuous treatment of ancient truths threatens to be our downfall.

To us who believe in the Lord, His words are the breath of life. A keen student of the word can observe patterns of human behavior, the consequences of pride, and the faithfulness of God. We find security in the wisdom an consistency of God. The words of the Bible may be ancient, but it’s truths are timeless.

No matter how we feel, nor how desperate the situation, the Lord will always be in command. While the world around us wears itself out with worry, we can rest in God.

Get down, look up, and zero in.

Get down.

Get down on your knees and pray. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

~ Philippians 4.6-7, ESV

Get down into the word of God so that you will know His promises.

  • He promises to be with us. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13.5-6)
  • He promises to give us peace. (see above)

  • He promises to save us. (Mark 16.16)

  • He promises to return. (2 Peter 3)

 

Get some rest.

Find a quiet spot and let your mind have some peace. Don’t overbook yourself and live life in a frenzy. Make some time for quiet.

Look up.

I am as guilty of this as most people. I look at my screen way too much. I need to look up more and see the world and the people around me. The emails and messages on my phone are important, and require my attention, but I also need to address the emotional needs of my neighbors, my friends, my spouse and my children.

The concerns of the world are like those emails, phone calls, and text messages. They have to be addressed, but they should not consume us. We need to look up and into the eyes of the God who loves us. Only he can give us the peace we so desperately crave.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

~ Colossians 3.1-2, ESV

Zero in.

A rifle has to be zeroed-in before a hunt so the hunter can be sure of his aim when he shoots. In the same way, we need to spend time getting our mind zeroed in on God. Find a quiet place, shut off the distractions, and make a mental tally of what you are thankful for.  Commit the promises of God to your heart so that when all else crumbles you will still be standing on the foundation of God’s promises which cannot be shaken.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

~ Philippians 4.8-9, ESV

 Are Anger, Apathy, and Angst hanging out with you today?

Get down, look up and zero in.

Feeling overwhelmed?

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Somewhere, right now, there is a young mother standing in her house, the fingertips of both hands pressed into her head in frustration. The house gets cleaned, only to be dirty within a few minutes. She sits down to rest only to be interrupted by another of her children. The sink is clogged, the repairman is calling, the bills need paying and dinner needs preparing.

Somewhere, right now, is a man sitting in a hard chair, head in hands, paralyzed by anxiety and grief. The list of honey-do’s at home and the never-ending stress of work has driven him into shut-down mode. He still carries the weight of the dead from his time in Iraq, and there are days it all seems like too much to handle.

Somewhere, right now, somebody you know is feeling overwhelmed.

It might even be you.

The account of Peter walking on the water toward Jesus (and his subsequent sinking/rescue) resonates with people. Waves and storms evoke a sense of overwhelming odds. Waves are powerful, crushing things that rise high above us, giving us the sense that we are insignificant and about to be overpowered. We all have days when the weight of everything is too heavy—our minds can’t focus, our heart rate increases, and we just wish we could hit “undo.”

How do you keep right on going when the weight of everything threatens to drown you?

Here are four tips for the overwhelmed and anxious:

Tip#1: Stop whatever you’re doing… and pray

“But I can’t stop! I have to keep going! I can’t just pause from what I’m doing! Catastrophe will ensue!”

You can stop, even if it’s just for a moment—take 10-30 seconds to pause and pray.

You don’t have to get on your knees or close your eyes. Just make an immediate appeal to God for help. Fix your mind’s eye on Him.

Here’s an example: “Lord, I feel overwhelmed. I know you are always near and said you’d be with me. You see what’s happening and you know how I feel. Have mercy on me and help me to keep going. I can do what needs to be done, but only with your help. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” (This only takes about 15-20 seconds!)

Still feeling overwhelmed? Keep pausing and praying until the day is over. Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you. That phrase is from His Word (Psalm 55:22) and it’s a promise! It doesn’t say He might sustain you, it says He will!

 

Tip #2: Reduce your intake of stimulants and sugars.

If you are having regular feelings of physical panic, it’s time to reevaluate your caffeine intake. Coffee is not inherently bad for you, but in many people (myself included) it causes heart palpitations and panic attacks. This can also include chocolate or black tea. Reduce or remove it. Some have found green tea to be a good substitute stimulant without the negative side affects of panic attacks, etcetera. If you use essential oils, put a drop of peppermint in your hand, rub both hands together, then bring them to your nose and breathe deeply. Peppermint gives clarity and stimulation. To relax, use lavender oil.

Sometimes, it’s just hard to focus. Reduce your intake of sugar and carbohydrates to lessen the 2 o’clock fog. A few simple dietary changes can make a big difference!

 

Tip #3: Make time for quiet.

We live in a loud world. Noise, distractions, and a constant flood of information are, in and of themselves, too much to process at times. Put down the phone, shut off the TV, turn off the music and do something quietly. Write down prayer requests, read a book, pray, or simply shut your eyes and process the events of the day. If you say, “I don’t have time,” you need to make time. Come up with 15 minutes in the morning, on your lunch break, or even before bed. It’s not impossible.

Here is another suggestion: When you get home from work, let the kids have a few minutes of play to themselves and allow yourself to decompress for as little as 10 minutes. Set a timer and tell the kids you’ll be out of your room when the timer goes off. Everyone needs to reset, refresh, and regroup. It’s good to train your kids to have “quiet time” as well. Admittedly, your kids may interrupt you with some catastrophe or other. Start with just a few minutes at a time and work your way up to 10 or 15 minutes. Over time and consistent practice, you will all fall into a healthy routine.

One last suggestion: make time to walk for a minimum of 20 minutes outside (weather permitting). There is something reviving about the fresh air and the solitude.

 

Tip #4: “Do the next thing.”

Writer and speaker Elisabeth Elliot emphasized this idea throughout her work. She derived this saying from an old Saxon poem:

Do it immediately; Do it with prayer;

Do it reliantly, casting all care;

Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand,

Who placed it before thee with earnest command.

Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,

Leave all resultings, DO THE NEXT THING.

This concept has helped me plow my way through some tough times. If your to-do list is a mile long and you feel like shutting down, ignore the list for a moment a focus on the next immediate task. Do the dishes need washing? Begin! Is your email inbox full? Reply to the first email. Take a few minutes to order your list and then start at the top. Instead of focusing on the mountain, fix your eyes on the first steps…

…And then the next foothold…

…and then the next handhold…

…then the next task, the next job, the next thing. Step, by step, by step.

Don’t concentrate on the list, concentrate on that first customer inquiry. Don’t think about all the demands, just change that diaper. You may only accomplish a few tasks, but you will have accomplished something in your day. With the Lord’s help, we can overcome our mountain of demands.


 

Are you feeling overwhelmed today? God is near and wants to help you. Leaning on Him is like resting against a great rock—peaceful, secure and steady.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;

My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

The pangs of death surrounded me,

And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.

The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;

The snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.

Psalm‬ ‭18:2-6‬ , 16 NKJV‬‬